Murmansk IV: The View from a Train Window

36 hours by train there. 36 hours to get back. 72 hours total, about three of which I spent taking photographs. Here’s what I have to show for it.

On the way there, we passed dozens of tiny villages clustered around lakes. These were some of the more picturesque ones. You can’t quite tell from these photographs, but no two houses are alike in any village– the antithesis of American suburbia. Each is painted a different color, and most have decorative details hand-carved in the wood of window shutters, doors, and other various nooks.

Could you imagine living in a place so far removed from the world?

Among landscapes like this, I think I could.

—-

This is on the way back, approximately 30 minutes outside of Murmansk. The area around many of Russia’s larger and middle-sized cities is fairly industrial. Seeing machines is always a sign you’re approaching humanity.

To be fair, there’s something grand and sequoia-like about these two smoke stacks.

This is already an hour or so away from Murmansk. Fewer machines, more fields and trees.

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2 comments
  1. There are plenty of places in the US where the homes are very different. Just like there are places where you come from where there is a monotonous sameness. Watch the anti-Americanism. You people aren’t so special and different.

    • Susan, I’m actually an American citizen who grew up in suburban New Jersey- Monmouth County. I’ve done multi-day road trips around the US and been to a lot of places that I do think fall under the “monotonous sameness” category and some very, very note-worthy exceptions– New Orleans comes to mind. I spent a week volunteering there to help victims of Katrina apply for funding to rebuild their homes. I also spend a week every summer volunteering on the Appalachian trail, a very unique part of America that I would like to preserve for posterity.

      This definitely is not anti-Americanism, and it’s not coming from a negative place. On the contrary, I have a profound appreciation for the people who are working to preserve the unique regional quirks of our country. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of them. In my travels I have been disappointed by the endless strip malls, McMansion cul-de-sacs, and chain stores I’ve found. Yes, every state and every town is different. Yes, I haven’t been everywhere. Do I think this is a very real problem that we shouldn’t shy away from and should openly acknowledge? Absolutely.

      “You people aren’t so special and different”? Well, if there’s one thing I’ve found out from my travels, it’s that all countries have some claim to being “special and different”. Commenting on the tremendous diversity that I found in these quaint, century-old Russian villages certainly doesn’t take away from anyone’s appreciation of all of America’s unique architectural treasures. I’d like to think it even inspires people to look a little more closely at their own surroundings and work harder to preserve them.

      I’ve made many remarks on how dull and uninspired Soviet architecture is (on this same blog), and no Russian has every accused me of being anti-Russian. Is it too much to ask for the same frank, open-mindedness from my fellow Americans? I’ll stand by my what I said about American suburbia, being very much a product of it myself, but I do hope that this cleared up any misunderstandings.

      Also, I’m planning on taking the California Zephyr (Amtrak route) across the US this summer right after doing the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Beijing. I’ll definitely do some posts about the experience and the beautiful things I see along the way. I look forward to reading more of your comments.

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